Rosemary: Overview

The leaves of the small evergreen shrub rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), have been used extensively as a cooking spice as well as a medicinal herb.  Traditionally, this herb has been used as a tonic, stimulant, carminative and for treating indigestion.  Most often rosemary is used as a tea.  In China, rosemary has been used primarily for the treatment of headaches.

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This herb's antioxidant power was used for centuries to preserve food.

Function; Why it is Recommended

While there has been little research on the use of rosemary for particular conditions, there are a host of biologically active constituents in rosemary too numerous to list here.

Rosemary increases coronary artery blood flow, historically used to stimulate digestion and relieve nervous tension.

Rosemary's spiky, evergreen-like leaves contain flavonoids that have antioxidant properties.  One flavonoid in rosemary, diosmin, is reported to help strengthen capillaries, which can ease problems such as varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

Rosemary may help you stay young.  In 1995, Japanese researchers found that two compounds in the herb carnosol and carnosic acid, may help to protect body tissue and cells against the oxidative stresses that have been linked to diabetes, aging, and coronary arteriosclerosis.

The German Commission E, the world's leading authority on herbs, has given the nod to using rosemary for circulation problems, such as low blood pressure, and for painful joints or muscles.


As with other similar herbs, rosemary is often added to a botanical mixture rather than used as a single herb preparation.

Rosemary is often taken as a tea made from 1 teaspoon of the dried leaves per cup of water.  To make tea using fresh leaves, double or triple the amount.

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Rosemary can help with the following:



Poor Memory

Inhalation of rosemary essential oil enhanced overall memory performance and secondary memory factors, but impaired memory speed in a randomized study of 144 people. [British Psychological Society Annual Conference, March 13-16, 2002, Blackpool, UK.]

Tumors, Malignant

Cancer, General

Rosemary is a COX-2 inhibitor, and increases the activity of detoxification enzymes.  An extract of rosemary, called carnosol, has inhibited the development of both breast and skin tumors in animals.  Rosemary can be used as a seasoning or a tea: Use 1tsp dried leaves per cup of hot water; steep for 15 minutes.

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